Estonia Ready To Lose Funding if Ukraine Joins EU
Estonia is prepared to gradually relinquish EU subsidies if Ukraine becomes a member of the union, according to Estonia's Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas. She has urged other EU countries to begin working on budget reforms that would facilitate Ukraine's membership.
This information comes from a report by the Financial Times.
In the coming years, the EU may admit nine new countries, including Ukraine, as part of a strategy shift prompted by Russia's invasion. However, EU member states are just starting to address the challenges of reforming the bloc to accommodate these changes, including examining the potential impact on budget allocation rules.
An internal EU assessment has estimated that Ukraine would be entitled to nearly €190 billion over seven years under the current budget structure. This would transform several EU countries from recipients of EU funds into contributors to the budget.
Estonia was one of six countries mentioned in an EU Council document as potentially losing access to union funds if Ukraine and other prospective members, such as Moldova and six Western Balkan countries, join the EU without prior changes to budgetary rules.
"We have to discuss how these funds are allocated and what we get in return. No one is saying we shouldn't reform anything. The question is, how much, and what exactly?" said Kallas during discussions at a recent EU leaders' meeting in Spain, where this topic was discussed among all 27 EU member states for the first time.
Kallas added that member countries should not simply view the EU as a means of making money. Last week, her sentiments were echoed by the Irish Minister for Internal Affairs, Leo Varadkar.
"It's very important that when we consider these EU enlargement issues, we don't just see them in terms of a financial calculation," he stated.
Varadkar also noted that the process of enlargement often spans more than one year from the time a country gains candidate status, and by that time, the budget will look quite different.
Many EU leaders referred to the expansion report during the discussion in Spain. Although officials stated they did not agree with the precise calculations, many pointed to the research as evidence that the current system would be unsuitable after expansion.